Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?

Probably no subject causes so much interest and is so important to deal with in our day as divorce. Over one million people a year experience divorce in America. Five out of nine marriages end up in divorce. Sixty percent of divorces involve children. 1,000,000 children are affec … More

Divorce

These verses in Mark give us the teaching of our Lord on the subject of divorce.  

Jesus had left Galilee and crossed over into Judea on the east side of the Jordan river (v. 1). As crowds gathered around Him to hear Him teach, a group of Pharisees asked Him a very controversial question. “Is it lawful for a man to put away (divorce) his wife” (v. 2)? It may have been designed to get Jesus into hot water with Herod who had divorced his own wife to marry his brother’s wife. In answer, Jesus asked them what Moses had commanded, because he was considered their highest authority (v. 3). This was the equivalent of our saying, “What does the Bible say?” The Bible is always the authority, the final word. There is no evidence in scripture that God devised divorce; it was something that man devised.

Their answer was based on Deuteronomy 24:1 where he allowed for a bill of divorcement (v. 4). During that time divorce was already taking place among the Israelites and Moses was not encouraging divorce but seeking to discourage it in that particular situation. Therefore, Jesus explained that the reason for this concession was because of the “hardness of your heart"(v. 5). Men were divorcing their wives on almost any grounds. It even went so far that if a wife spoiled a dish of food or had a loud voice he could divorce her. Jesus went on to point out that marriage was permanently binding as pointed out in Genesis 1:27,28 and 2:24 (vv. 6-9). It is meant to be absolute permanency and unity and no Mosaic regulation involving a temporary situation could alter that. Furthermore we find in Malachi 2:16 that God hates divorce. God hates divorce because of what causes divorce and because of what divorce causes. Jesus confirms this to his disciples (vv. 10-12).

Application

The two biggest reasons for divorce is the lack of commitment and one or both of the partners trying to change the other. Lord help me and all those in my family to never waver in commitment to our spouses and to not be guilty of trying to change the other person.

Mark 10:1-12 (English Standard Version)

And he left there and went to the region of Judea and beyond the Jordan, and crowds gathered to him again. And again, as was his custom, he taught them. And Pharisees came up and in order to test him asked, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?" He answered them, "What did Moses command you?" They said, "Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce and to send her away." And Jesus said to them, "Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment. But from the beginning of creation, 'God made them male and female.' 'Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.' So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate." And in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. And he said to them, "Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her, and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery."

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